THE Ministry of Health has denied the Ascension Invitational tournament an exemption which would have resulted in the restart of local football, listing the increased spread of the Covid-19 delta variant as the main reason.
Ascension Invitational, whose main financier is former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association presidential candidate Richard Ferguson, approached the Ministry of Health, hoping to get the go-ahead for football to resume, a privilege that was afforded recently to the horse racing fraternity. Responding, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh wrote tournament director Kieron Edwards via correspondence dated November 3, informing that an exemption had been denied.
“I have received your request for an exemption, pursuant to the regulations, to commence the Ascension Football Tournament of Trinidad and Tobago and as further delineated in your letter,” Minister Deyalsingh acknowledged.
Recently, in announcing permission for horse racing to resume, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley suggested that other sports could re-start in the near future, depending on the situation involving the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the Delta strain of Covid-19 spreading through several communities resulting in a spike in infections, the Health Minister suggested that the time may not be right for football to resume.
“Due to the community spread of the Delta Variant of Covid-19, I am unable to authorise the conduct of the said tournament, at this time,” Deyalsingh replied via letter.
“Notwithstanding, due consideration may be given to your request in the future,” Deyalsingh added.
Ascension Invitational had proposed a tournament which was to be held at a single venue—La Horquetta Recreation Ground —and involving only fully vaccinated footballers and staff. The organisers also sought to have the involvement of fully-vaccinated fans and proposed to enforce Covid-19 protocols via the involvement of the La Horquetta Police, whose station is situated directly in front of the single match venue.
Local football has not been played since March 2020 at the onslaught of the pandemic.
The Ascension organisers had hoped to restart local football with ten teams consisting of 2019 Ascension and Pro League champions Defence Force, Police FC, Cunupia FC, West Forte FC, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers FC, Malabar FC, Central FC, AC Port Of Spain, Central Soccer World FC and Deportivo PF.
SOURCE: T&T Express